Photo Exhibition – Afghanistan: hidden voices from a forgotten war

Photo Exhibition

18 photographs taken on peace delegations to Kabul, a snapshot into the ordinary lives of Afghans, accompanied with informative text from the booklet.

Suitable for schools, colleges, peace centres, galleries, cafes.

This exhibition is part of a year long campaign to raise awareness around the last 18 years of war in Afghanistan.


The exhibition is available for hire or purchase from: vcnvuk@gmail.com

Donate to VCNV UK

or buy a booklet

The Co-operative Bank
Account: 65583025
Sort: 089299

PAYPAL

Afghanistan: hidden voices from a forgotten war

What do Afghans think about elections and the current peace talks?

Afghanistan: hidden voices from a forgotten war

A new publication by Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK
Stories and testimonies collected from some our visits to Afghanistan, giving a voice to women and young people, the very voices recent peace negotiations have excluded. The booklet includes essays on women, mining, deportation, the peace process, Britain and the Great Game, the case for US reparations, and moreover, the voices of ordinary Afghans.

Available from the 7th October
Contact: vcnvuk@gmail.com
£5 plus P&P (payment details below)
ISBN: 078-1-9161961-0-0

See here for a review of the booklet. 

#Afgh18
 
Remember Afghanistan: 18 years of war

VCNV UK News Update 2nd October 2019  
Next week marks 18 years of US/NATO war in Afghanistan, part of four decades of relentless war for a country in which recent UN based figures strongly indicate that “more civilians are killed or injured in Afghanistan due to armed conflict than anywhere else on Earth.” And the violence is getting worse. In only August 2019 “an average of 74 men, women and children were killed every day in Afghanistan throughout the month of August… 611 security incidents in which 2,307 people died.  A further 1,948 people were injured.” Reported by the BBC

Stalled peace negotiations
Nine rounds of US/ Taliban peace talks hit the wall earlier this month. The year-long peace negotiations have been dogged by the evident escalation of Taliban attacks on civilians. Trump halted dialogues on the 9th September after a US soldier was killed, saying “They are dead. As far as I am concerned, they are dead”, he also announced that the US military intends to dramatically scale up attacks on the insurgents in Afghanistan. He added, at a joint White House press conference, that he could “end the war in a week but he would kill 10 million Afghans”.

The peace talks have generally lacked credibility as the Afghan Government were not included, and moreover women and young people were not given a meaningful voice at the table.

Flawed Elections
This week has seen the long-postponed presidential elections which saw Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah rival one another once again. Like before in the 2014 elections, both candidates have declared themselves the winners, even before final votes have been counted.

At least 30 security personnel and 10 civilians were killed on election day, and at least 40 security forces and 150 civilian wounded.

The elections saw a record low turn-out with the election commission so far counting 2.19 million votes from 3,736 of the country’s approximately 4,000 polling centres. Afghanistan’s total population stands at about 37 million, with just 9.6 million registered voters. Disillusionment about election candidates, electoral corruption and the eligibility criteria of biometrics (iris scanning and fingerprinting) are thought to be key reasons for voter apathy.

Drone strikes continue to kill civilians
19th September, Islamabad saw the deadliest ever drone strike upon civilians, 70 Afghan farmers were killed and injured in a US drone strike in Nangarhar province. Reports say 30 Afghan farmers were killed, while another 40 were injured after the labourers had spent the day picking pine nuts, and were sitting round a fire they had just lit. 

25th September, at least 40 civilians killed and 16 wounded attending a wedding were killed after Afghan military forces struck against a Taliban hideout in the building adjacent to the ceremony in Helmand. 
 
Women and young people
We continue to campaign for the voices of women and young people to be heard. They are the majority grouping of the population, and still their political influence is underrepresented and largely ignored by decision makers both in Afghanistan, the US and the UK. While British troops are still stationed, and working alongside the US in Afghanistan, we continue to shine a spotlight on this forgotten war, to ensure a meaningful peace.

Afghanistan: hidden voices from a forgotten war

Photo Exhibition

18 photographs taken on peace delegations to Kabul, a snapshot into the ordinary lives of Afghans, accompanied with informative text from the booklet.

Suitable for schools, colleges, peace centres, galleries, cafes.

This exhibition is part of a year long campaign to raise awareness around the last 18 years of war in Afghanistan.


The exhibition is available for hire or purchase from: vcnvuk@gmail.com  

The Wounds of War in Afghanistan
September 27, 2019 Kathy Kelly

Recovering from a broken hip, peace activist Kathy Kelly reflects on her experiences with people disabled and traumatized by war.

Its economy gutted by war, Afghanistan’s largest cash crop remains opium. Yet farmers there do grow other crops for export. Villagers in the Wazir Tangi area of Nangarhar province, for example, cultivate pine nuts. As a precaution, this year at harvest time, village elders notified the governor of the province that they would be bringing in migrant workers to help them collect the nuts. Hired laborers, including children, would camp out in the pine nut forests, they informed the officials. They hoped their letter could persuade U.S. and ISIS forces, which had been fighting in or near their villages, not to attack.

Read more


Donate to VCNV UK

or buy a booklet

The Co-operative Bank
Account: 65583025
Sort: 089299

PAYPAL

Climate Change & Permaculture in Afghanistan

While in Kabul Rosemary Morrow explained her urgent mission:

“It’s important for lots of social reasons, it’s something which can bring people together quickly under the pressures of conflict. It’s about building a future, every time you plant a tree you are building an improved future. It’s especially important in the potential scenario of the city laid to siege, cut off from food imports, it’s essential people have the skills to survive. At the moment Kabul doesnt have permaculture at all, and it’s a highly polluted environment. My course in Kabul is about teaching people to a high level and with interaction, for example I plan to visit the very polluted local river and explore ideas of what we can do there.”
 
Gardens of Sanctuary 
A Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK Project with Anna Locke View this email in your browser Inspired by the Afghan Peace Volunteers and their desire to learn permaculture techniques, we have teamed up with esteemed UK permaculture practitioner Anna Locke to launch the
Gardens of Sanctuary Project.

We invite groups of all description to take part in this interactive and inclusive project to raise awareness around the wars in which many refugees living in the UK have fled. It involves working with refugees on a relaxing and therapeutic activity which will have excellent outcomes by way of beautiful permaculture gardens and a space to convalesce.

Last year the Afghan Peace Volunteers received an intense 18 day course by expert (and famous) permaculture practitioner Rosemary Morrow. She travelled to Kabul to work with 31 teenagers, teaching them how to design, plant and grow a permaculture garden.

Permaculture is an agricultural system or method that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems.

Today, Kabul is one of the most polluted cities in the world, every year 3,000 people in the city die due to pollution induced illnesses such as respiratory diseases, allergies, miscarriages and cancer. The biggest culprits are the 900,000 vehicles, 80% of which are older than 10 years and lack catalytic converters. In addition, Afghanistan imports low quality “dirty fuel” and relies on generators for electricity. A city built for 500,000 people is now home to some 5 million as refugees pour into the city to escape the ongoing military fighting in the provinces. Kabul is the only capital city in the world which doesn’t have a sewage system producing 2,000 tons of solid waste per day.

While in Kabul Rosemary Morrow explained her urgent mission:
“It’s important for lots of social reasons, it’s something which can bring people together quickly under the pressures of conflict. It’s about building a future, every time you plant a tree you are building an improved future. It’s especially important in the potential scenario of the city laid to siege, cut off from food imports, it’s essential people have the skills to survive. At the moment Kabul doesnt have permaculture at all, and it’s a highly polluted environment. My course in Kabul is about teaching people to a high level and with interaction, for example I plan to visit the very polluted local river and explore ideas of what we can do there.”

The local river is more of a mountain range of rubbish with a thick grey murky sludge working its way through the valleys of trash. Due to climate change Afghanistan is facing a water crisis, especially in the years when the snows fail to come. Today only 27% of Afghans have access to clean water, while the water table in Kabul has dropped 10 metres in the last few years. 

Rosemary added: “Learning how to use grey water could be life changing, that will be a major theme, clean food for Kabul, did you know spirulina can be grown on human urine?”

Today, members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers now visit refugee camps in Kabul and teach permaculture. Gardens of Sanctuary is in solidarity with all refugees who have been displaced from their homes, those who can’t access food and clean water, those facing an environmental crisis and those in need of sanctuary.

Gardens of Sanctuary is being launched to coincide with the Nao Roz (Persian New Year) and will be piloted this spring in the town of St Leonards-on-Sea. If any other groups  would like to take part then please contact us.



The original layout and plant lists have been inspired by the splendid Babur Gardens in Kabul, a classic Persian style garden built in 1528 by the Mughal emperor Babur.

The Kabul gardens are now often used by courting couples who sit within the rose gardens or under fruit trees reciting Persian poetry.

This conceptual design replicates the symmetry found in Persian Gardens and uses classic fruit trees found in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
A plant guild is made up of different plants with different roles. This is a beautiful concept  in permaculture, it is where you create a self supporting micro-community of plants around a fruit tree.  This is particularly pertinent for young trees as they are establishing, and is a wonderful analogy for people trying to put their roots down in new places. 

 

See here for the full Gardens of Sanctuary design.


Letter from India…

(Written by a female member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers while on a permaculture course in India)  

I see myself fortunate to come here and have the experience of all those lessons in activities in the Arayna Farm.

In Arayna Farm I see people who has love and friendship with Mother Nature. Everything which has been taken from earth is restored back, no wasting water, soils are nutrient and fertilized with organic matters, and never used chemical fertilizer. Every kind of trees and plants are cultivated, no one uses plastic bags, and 95% of kitchen vegetables are from the farm. They have seeds bank and had kept seeds of all plants in the bank. For keeping the moisture of soils, they use the leaves, branches and plants, different birds are living in the farms, which are lovely when they sing a song in the dawn.

NOW, I am much confident in the power of women because the women in India do the 90% of permaculture work.

With seeing this permaculture land now, I am encouraged to work in this area and want to be the first youth in Afghanistan who makes the first farm of permaculture. In addition, I want to be an encouragement of other youth to do permaculture work and with this work, they would understand that the best way for keeping the nature alive is the permaculture method.

It very good the APVs could be in contact with Padma and Narsanna and they could be a good friend of APVs.

Once they told me, they like to visit APVs and APVs could really have them as visitor.

They gave me two books about Compost method, saving water and irritating method and hope the books to translate and use in the Institute.

I want to bring some seeds from the form and we will start collecting seeds because it is very hard to find pure seeds of plants in Afghanistan.


Permaculture in Afghanistan

A permaculture principle : working with nature, not against it

From the 10th of February 2018 to the 3rd of March 2018, Australian permaculture expert Rosemary Morrow brought 31 Afghans through the second 18 –day Permaculture Design Course organized by the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul.
“In Australia, the bird-songs are my wake-up call. Here in Kabul, there are just too few birds,” commented Rowe, our permaculture teacher. Through face masks, we can still smell the biting smoke and poison in the air and sewerage-waste water, and in the grey phlegm we cough and spit out into the sink every evening. “The soil is exhausted, dry and starving,” Rowe remarked during the Permaculture Design Course, “so we have to repair the soil. We have no choice, if we wish to survive.”
“You mean, industrial agriculture is eroding the soils?” “You mean, we are harming ourselves?” the permaculture design course participants asked incredulously. How did we go ‘off-course’? Who convinced us to take our eyes off the natural blues and greens, to believe in the killer chemical toxins we produce? What made us prefer touching rectangularish digital screens to touching tendrils, petals and bark? What allowed paper or metallic money, ultimately, imaginary money, to inflate our egos so much we forgot to revere the earth? Instead, we cut down our oxygen, our carbon sinks and rain-makers. Without so much as a pause, we cut down our lives.


We’re all students of Mother Earth and Nature

When Afghans, or any human being, are forced to tether on the edge, they cling to the air, they lose their balance and direction, and, on bad days, which are overly usual, I lose it with them. However, what if we allowed ourselves to fall in love with the soil? What if we desired to make the trees smile, and the leaves to shimmer? Wouldn’t Mother Nature restore our breathing, calm our frayed emotions, and court the missing birds who will wake us up?

When Rowe returned from taking a taxi-view of a few refugee camps, her eyes had the sorrow of a thousand years, an indignant disgust at what all politicians are doing or not doing. She shook her head as if to hide her trembling, “Oh, the children, the children…” I could tell she was not about to cry openly, in the same way I try to cope with my daily sense of loss. I sometimes imagine storing those tears in a reservoir, only that, in Afghanistan’s deserts, the droplets would scatter and dissipate. We have no choice, if we wish to survive.”


Simple soil analysis revealed weakened Kabul soil Inaam the young permaculture designer being affirmed by Rowe
 
Inaam drew a big yellow-and-black bee, and placed its hive next to his vegetable garden, the hive’s face opening its wax and honey to the hydrogen-helium sun. He designed a rain-harvesting system from the roof, while aware of the Afghan crises of drought and  falling water-tables. He pictured himself teasing the chickens as they provided manure while pecking at grubs and insects. I could see the garden in his mind, and was sure that it would be better to take boring school lessons out of his brightly-lit brain, and water his imagination into self-schooling. There, in his and our change of understanding, life would grow to feed all.

Learning from Nature to design healthy ecosystems and meet the needs of all


Invite the birds back to Kabul!

Photo Essay by Dr Hakim
Repairing our decayed soil, air water & food.


Afghan Flood Appeal 


As of 5 March, nine provinces in Afghanistan have been affected by heavy rains and flooding. More than 40 people are known to have died, and hundreds of others have been injured or are missing. More than 2,500 houses have been damaged and over 1,300 destroyed. Flood affected people are in need of emergency shelter, warm clothing, food and hygiene kits. Almost 5,000 people have been displaced and 1,200 houses have been damaged or destroyed.  
In response to that, we are conducting relief operations to ensure disaster victims receive the resources that are needed most. Other charity organisations also work on the ground, and our association also wants to play its effective role in support of relief efforts currently underway. The goal is to help as many people and as quickly as possible. In order to accomplish this urgent mission efficiently and effectively, we are relying on your generous monetary donations. The donated money will be used to provide food, medicine and other necessary items and to contribute to prevent the outbreak of diseases and escalation of the current situation.    
As you know, monetary donations are critically important in the aftermath of all disasters because they can be used quickly to purchase exactly what is needed to support affected people and strengthen the recovery effort. Even a small amount can make a huge difference and impact.
 
DONATE HERE  

On behalf of the victims, we greatly appreciate your generosity and support.   Kind regards, Association of Afghan Healthcare Professionals-UK Website: http://www.aahpuk.org        
Registered charity no. 1150024

Happy
Nao
Roz!

Where’s the voice of the Afghan people?

Hamid Karzai, a former president of Afghanistan, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of political office of the Taliban, once bitter enemies, now attend peace talks in Moscow – but how much do they represent the Afghan people of today?
Where’s the voice of the Afghan people?
by Maya Evans
20th February 2019


A new round of Afghan peace talks has been underway first in Doha, Qatar, and then in Moscow, Russia; respectively between the Taliban and the US Government, and then between Afghan politicians and the Taliban. Amid the analysis and comments most are talking about how the Afghan Government have been left out of talks, and how realistic are Taliban demands for all US troops to be withdrawn in exchange for a Taliban promise that they will never again harbour terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. While it’s interesting to muse over what a peace agreement between groups which have been at loggerheads for nearly four decades might look like, few are asking:
“Where’s the voice of the Afghan people?”

Women and young people
Today, Afghan women and youth combined make up the majority of the Afghan population. But neither the older generation of Talibs, the US appointed special reconciliation envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, nor the Afghan politicians (all older men) represent the experience or perspective of an average Afghan. It’s hard to see where the interests of ordinary Afghans at the tail end of four decades of war and violence, are being represented. In fact, of the fifty Afghan delegates attending the talks in Moscow, only two were women.

Afghan women’s groups are voicing their grave concerns and worries as their rights are being glossed over and potentially sacrificed for a peace deal being forged in the interest of the US Trump administration’s will to withdraw their military from Afghanistan. Women’s greatest fear is that the Taliban regime of the nineteen-nineties will be re-installed with all the horrors for women that that entailed. Afghan women’s rights groups are demanding as an absolute minimum a written statement by the Taliban agreeing equality and rights for women.

The talks between historically misogynistic warring groups already seem disingenuous as the Taliban continue to carry out violent attacks across the country, the last being only a few days ago with 20 border police killed in Southern Kandahar by Taliban.

Afghan women
As in all war-torn countries, women and children suffer disproportionately. Afghanistan is still ranked the worst place in the world to be a woman.

An estimated two thirds of Afghan girls do not attend school, 87% of Afghan women are illiterate, while 70-80% face forced marriage often in their early teens.

Last September a watchdog report called the USAID’s $280 million ‘Promote’ program – which was the largest single investment that the U.S. government has ever made to advance women’s rights globally – a flop and a “waste of taxpayer’s money”. While according to the Afghan Government, in 2014, 80% of the suicides were women.

The Afghan Government
And what about the Afghan Government who have up to now been excluded from peace talks? Just last week President Ashraf Afghani was in Munich and talked about the importance of including the Afghan people in peace negotiations, saying: “Peace needs to be citizen-centered, not elite-centered”, but he fudged the issue of women merely saying that they will attend a national debate. In practice his administration like all those before have failed to take responsibility for implementing and protecting women’s rights.
This time last year Afghanistan passed into law a new criminal code that the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) hailed as a milestone in the country’s criminal justice reform. However, one chapter of the code was removed before it was passed: the chapter penalizing violence against women, including marital rape.

In 2015, 27-year-old Farkhunda Malikzada was beaten to death by a mob in Kabul after being falsely accused of burning the Quran. The government did little to bring about justice and ignored demands for more action to combat violence against women.

Where is the love?
On Valentine’s day 23 year old poet and student Mazhar read his poem in a small auditorium at Kabul University as an emblem of dissent:

Every step, every destination, I love you.
To spite the murderous traditions, I love you.
You are pious, your kisses are your prayer.
You are different, your kisses are your protest.
You are not afraid of love, of hope, of tomorrow.
I kiss you amid the Taliban, you are not afraid!
 
Expecting a shoe to be thrown at his head by fellow students he also delivered this message; that the mostly older leaders who sat with the Taliban in Moscow did not represent the values that shaped his generation. His classmates greeted him with applause.

In the last 18 years young urban Afghans have grown up with a degree of education and freedom of expression, something they very much fear will be lost with these peace talks going the way they are.

If meaningful peace is to succeed in Afghanistan it must include the voices and interests of the people, and at the moment women and young people together are the majority.

Young Afghans at the Borderfree Peace Centre discuss what it takes to bring peace

What it really takes to secure peace in Afghanistan
 by Kathy Kelly
(writing from Kabul)

13th February 2019

 Constant military surveillance of Afghans yields almost no real intelligence about the problems they face each day. An unusual group of volunteers uses a far different approach. 

Hossein, a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APV), which hosted my recent visit to Afghanistan, rolled up his sleeve to show me a still-healing three-inch wound. Thieves had broken into his family home in Kabul. When they were discovered, one of the robbers stabbed Hossein.
An APV coordinator, Zekerullah, was robbed and beaten by assailants in broad daylight. Ata Khan lost his camera and mobile phone to a gang of young thieves who accosted him and eight other people in a public park during the daytime.
Habib, a recent young graduate of the APV Street Kids School program, suffered blows from several attackers a month ago.“I didn’t have anything they wanted to take,” he said, assuring me he is OK even though his lower back, where they beat him, is still sore.

Read more

Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK in 2019
In this coming year Voices UK will be focusing on the following campaigns:
– Stop deportation to Afghanistan. 
– Economic justice for Afghanistan instead of further billions spent on military operations, reparations to grassroots organisations, as well stop the plunder of Afghan raw materials by foreign countries.
– Building a peace movement with the Afghan diaspora. 
– Withdrawal of UK troops.

VCNV UK will soon be setting off to Kabul to be in solidarity with the Afghan Peace Volunteers.
Themes we will be exploring this trip include:
– This month is the 30 year anniversary of Russia withdrawing.
– Women and young people combined make up the majority of Afghans today.



Mary Dobbing and Maya Evans attending an ACAA organised event in Parliament focusing on Afghan women. It was exciting to meet so many young and engaged Afghans.

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Fly Kites Not Drones 21st March 2019
Organise an event in your area around the Persian New Year to show solidarity with young people living under the threat of drones
@KitesNotDrones #FlyKitesNotDrones
Today killer drones are still reaping fear and violence over Afghanistan
In Syria 27% of British air strikes in Syria were drone strikes in 2018 alone, there were 75 strikes in December alone.
Join this simple but fun action to raise awareness about the impact of drones.

Remember Afghanistan: 17 Years #Enough

This Sunday will mark the 17 year anniversary of a UK backed war on Afghanistan.

What has been achieved?

– At least 217,000 Afghans have been killed
– An average of 28 Afghan civilians are killed or injured everyday
3,546 foreign troops have been killed, 456 of which were British
– It’s estimated that the UK has spent £40bn, and the USA $2tn
– The Taliban currently threaten 70% of the country
– The Afghan Government is made up of warlords 
1 million Afghans are now addicted to opium
1.2 million are internally displaced
1.2 million Afghan children are engaged in ‘hard labour’
– Only 27% of Afghans can access clean water
– Afghanistan is still one of the most dangerous places in the world
– The list could go on….

VCNV is still working in solidarity with Afghan peace activists who are now demanding a ceasefire and a withdrawal of foreign troops.Please join us this weekend in taking part in some simple but poignant actions to remember Afghanistan.

In solidarity, Mary & Maya
Join Mary Dobbing (VCNV) with Stop the War at Downing Street, Friday 5th October 5pm, to hand in a letter demanding a withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan and an end to British support of the war.

Join Maya Evans 5th October 6pm Oxford, New Road Baptist Church for a talk on global U.S. bases

&

USAF Croughton

6th October 12-4pm

Keep Space for Peace
 
Organise a surgery appointment with your MP and ask: 
· Why has the UK Government deployed 1,000 additional British troops to Afghanistan?
·  Would they support to end UK involvement?
·  As the UK has already spent at least £40 billion on war in Afghanistan, could future allocated money instead be spent on reparations? 
·  Would they sign the petition?
Download the petition

End the War in Afghanistan
Rethinking the Institution of War
by Dr Hakim in Kabul

Their action of walking without shoes suggest to us that, for us to survive today’s militarized and profit-driven norms, we have to live each day differently, and with clarity and compassion.We’ve been thinking that we need armies to stop ‘terrorists’, but armies don’t stop ‘terrorists’. Instead, they give ‘terrorists’ reason to keep fighting.We need to think anew.Moreover, the roots of ‘terrorism’ lie within ourselves. We are our own source of wars.Iqbal Khyber, a representative of PPM, told the Afghan Peace Volunteers ( APVs ) about how violence has taken root in all of us. “A blind member of our group, Zindani ( a name he gave himself after he was blinded by a Taliban-planted roadside bomb, meaning ‘imprisoned’ ) had so much pain in him that, one evening, when we were camped outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, he pleaded with me, ‘Can I throw a pebble at the fence?’ ”

Read more…



Afghan Peace Volunteers meet The People’s Peace Movement
– photos by Dr Hakim
Chalk or read the names of Afghan war dead
This represents just a few names collected in 2008/9 by Professor Marc Herold, however his database is no longer online. It is still unknown how many Afghans have been killed in the last 17 years, 217,000 is a conservative estimate.

Faiz Mohammad, 79,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Mauladad,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008.

Allahdad, 10,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Shah Wali,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Ahmad Shah, 14,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Haji Saleh,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008.

Malok,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Janan, 11,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008.

Mohammad Wali, 7,
Killed in the village of Shagay, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on the night of 3 February 2008. 

Saeed Rasul, 50,
Killed in Do’ab district, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, on 6 April 2008

Rahmatullah, 45,
Killed in Do’ab district, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, on 6 April 2008

Shahnaz, 11,
Killed by US airstrikes while part of a double wedding procession on the way to one of the groom’s houses in the village of Ka Chona, Nangarhar Province, on 6 July 2008.

Badam, son of Saeed Hanif
Killed in a night-time U.S. air and ground attack in the Garoch region of Laghman Province, on Saturday, October 18, 2008

Marjan
Killed by ground fire from foreign forces in the Khwaja Gar area of the Deh Sabz district northeast of Kabul on on January 2, 2009

Haji Sardar
Killed along with seven of his family members in a U.S air and ground attack in the Sahak area of Zormat district, Paktia Province. December 2008.

Shekh Anwar, family father
Killed, along with his wife and infant son, in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009.

Sheri Ali
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Norullah 
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Noral
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Torgul, son of Mohammad Masom
Killed, along with two of his siblings, in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009


Feda Mohammad, son of Akam Khan
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Abdullah, son of Akam Khan
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Haji Dastangul, family grandfather
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Basgul, wife of Haji Dastangul
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009
 Mohammada Gul, son of Haji Dastangul
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Sayeda Gul, son of Haji Dastangul
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Denar Gul, grandson of Haji Dastangul
Killed in a U.S. air strike on the village of Garoch, at 3am on 24 January 2009

Amir Painda, tribal leader
Killed by U.S. forces’ ground fire near Orgun-e in Paktika Province on January 31, 2009

Haji Abdul Qadoos
Killed, along with 3 children and two women, in a U.S. air strike called-in by Polish occupation forces on 1 February 2009 in Ghazni Province.

Abdul Rauf
Killed in a U.S. air strike called-in by Polish occupation forces on 1 February 2009 in Ghazni Province.

Qabol Khan, a middle  school principal
Killed by US ground forces during the evening of February 6/7 2009, in the Khabidi area of Khost city, Khost Province.

Abdul Khaliq, father
Killed in a ground raid by US forces on night of February 20/21, 2008 in the village of Deh Naw, Logar Province.

Abdul Rashid, a father
Killed in middle of night by U.S. Special Operations Forces on 14 March 2009 in Logar Province.

Abdul Shakir, son of Abdul Rashid
Killed in middle of night by U.S. Special Operations Forces on 14 March 2009 in Logar Province.

Abdul Nasir, son of Abdul Rashid
Killed in middle of night by U.S. Special Operations Forces on 14 March 2009 in Logar Province.

Abdul Qadir, son of Abdul Rashid
Killed in middle of night by U.S. Special Operations Forces on 14 March 2009 in Logar Province.
 
Abdul Latif, son of Abdul Rashid
Killed in middle of night by U.S. Special Operations Forces on 14 March 2009 in Logar Province.

Nadia, 17, daughter of Awal Khan
Killed by U.S. occupation forces in a night-time assault on hamlet of Ali Daya in Gorbaz (Gurbuz) district on 9 April 2009

Aimal, 15, son of Awal Khan
Killed by U.S. occupation forces in a night-time assault on hamlet of Ali Daya in Gorbaz (Gurbuz) district on 9 April 2009

Safia, a girl aged 3
Killed, alongside a woman, a boy and three adult men during a  midnight “precision” U.S air strike on Tangar village, Watapur district of Kunar Province on 12 / 13 April 2009

Zia-ul-Haq, 35, son of Haji Abdul Wahid
Killed with his wife and driver by a helicopter attack in northern Helmand on 17 April 2009

Malem Mohammad Nader, 55
Killed and wounded in a combined air & ground attack in Helmand province on 27 April 2009.

Mohammad Musa Khan, 60
Killed and wounded in a combined air & ground attack in Helmand province on 27 April 2009.

Behnooshahr, a girl, aged 12
Killed by ground fire from Italian forces in Heart province on 3 May 2009
The coffin of Lance Corporal David Dennis is carried during a repatriation ceremony at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, southern England July 10, 2009. The bodies of five soldiers killed in Afghanistan, Lance Corporal David Dennis, Trooper Christopher Whiteside, Private Robert Laws, Captain Ben Babington-Browne, and Lance Corporal Dane Elson were repatriated.
REUTERS/Ministry of Defence/Crown Copyright/Adrian Harlen/Handout
(BRITAIN OBITUARY MILITARY)
Chalk or read the names of British war dead

Full list found here

17 years of war on Afghanistan – Let’s take ACTION!


Street kids protest in Kabul, photo by Dr Hakim
While Britain deploys an additional 1,000 troops in Afghanistan,
Afghan peace activists rally and organise for self determination

Afghan Activists Rising 

October 7th marks the 17 year anniversary of the US and Coalition forces’ invasion of Afghanistan which was triggered by the 9/11 attack on New York only a month before. It’s a war few predicted, it’s a war even fewer realise is still ongoing, it’s a war which started when many of the soldiers who are signing up today weren’t even born.

To date, 3,546 US/NATO soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, 456 of which were British, while a conservative estimate calculates 217,000 Afghans have died as a direct result of fighting, that figure can be at least tripled when taking into account indirect deaths caused by war, like not being able to access health care. Despite well publicised ‘draw downs’ of troops by the US and UK, and proclamations of ‘mission complete’ by David Cameron in 2014, the troops are still there. The UK Government has recently deployed over 1,000 further British soldiers to Afghanistan, and is calculated to have spent £40 billion by the 2014 ‘draw-down’. 

In October 2014 Defence Secretary David Fallon said: “Mistakes were made militarily, mistakes were made by the politicians at the time and this goes back 10, 13 years… We’re not going to send combat troops back into Afghanistan, under any circumstances.” 

More recently U.K. ambassador for Afghanistan Sir Nicholas Kay, while speaking on how to resolve conflict in Afghanistan, said: “I don’t have the answer.” Indeed, neither US or NATO have a stated plan for the future of Afghanistan. 

British troops are now joining 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, plus some 6,000 other NATO troops, 1,000 mercenaries, and another 26,000 contractors. That’s 48,000 people engaged in a foreign occupation of a country 17 years after the accomplishment of their stated mission to overthrow the Taliban government.  

Last year £49billion in British taxes were spent on defence, meanwhile councils up and down the country go bankrupt or borrow millions just to stay afloat. The public sector faces a crisis with the NHS being stripped to the bone, and the education of our children is being sold off to largely failing Academies. The wisdom learnt over the last 17 years shows us that wars do not work for us or the countries they are being waged against, they only create further violence, some of which gets directed back at the UK in the form of terrorist attacks against our own civilians.  

During each of the past 17 years, Afghanistan has continued its descent into poverty, violence, environmental degradation, and instability. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world, and one of the most dangerous. A UNAMA report published in July 2018 described fatality rates in the first six months of 2018 as being “the bloodiest on record” at an average rate of 28 Afghan civilians killed or injured every day.

While a power struggle plays out between the US/NATO Coalition military, the Taliban, ISKP (Daesh) and the Afghan Government, not to mention shadowy interference from elements in Pakistan, Iran, Russia and China, civil society groups are taking matters into their own hands. People are coming together and organising peace walks, they’re fasting outside of foreign embassies and government buildings, some have even headed to the hills to negotiate peace with the Taliban.

In June women and girls in Helmand welcomed the Taliban with flowers with the message to extend the Eid al-Fitr ceasefire. The Taliban did not respond to the request, but the audacious move by women represents the strength and determination of Afghan people, even more so that the protestors were women who potentially risk death for such a bold move. 

Acts of civil disobedience are springing up across the country, after the attack on the education centre in Kabul last month, villagers in Bamiyan gathered together and undertook a fast. Afghan protest has one thing in common, ceasefire and a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan Government.

Here in Britain we want to support the initiatives by Afghans seeking peace, we want to encourage the self determination of Afghans who are striving for a peaceful future. We demand that the UK Government withdraw their military and do everything in its power to bring stability and peace. We urge that any further UK resources allocated to Afghanistan be spent on desperately required aid, shelter and agricultural equipment for Afghans, we ask for economic justice for Afghanistan, for example foreign workers should pay their taxes in the country, produce from Afghanistan should be fairly traded, money should be kept within the country instead of it largely flowing out.

Article by Maya Evans 



Take action in your community

Hold a stall in your town centre
Sunday 7th October
Download the petition to end the war in Afghanistan
– Chalk the names of the British and Afghan war dead.

Organise an event in your area
During October
– Invite an Afghan to talk about their experiences 
– Bring an Afghan dish party
Afghan poetry night



Order your Afghan solidarity blue scarves
Blue represent the colour of the beautiful blue Afghan skies, it symbolises the idea that all humans live under the same blue sky & we should live in a world without borders.

*Special Offer*
10 blue scarves made by Afghan Peace Activists 
‘Borderfree’ embroidered in English & Dari
only £50 (plus P&P)
email: vcnvuk@gmail.com


Blue Scarf March
Hold a peace walk in your area, for example walk from your war memorial to a civic building. 
Wear the blue scarves and carry placards of remembrance. 



Organise a surgery appointment with your MP and ask: 
·      Why has the UK Government deployed more British troops to Afghanistan?
·      Would they support to end UK involvement?
·      As the UK has already spent at least £40 billion on war in Afghanistan, could future allocated money instead be spent on aid and infrastructure?
·       Would they sign the petition?
Present your MP with a solidarity blue scarf

Messages of Peace from Hiroshima

The March for PeaceFrom Helmand to Hiroshima

 by Maya Evans, writing from Japan
6th August 2018


 I have just arrived in Hiroshima with a group of Japanese “Okinawa to Hiroshima peace walkers” who had spent nearly two months walking Japanese roads protesting U.S. militarism.  At the same time that we were walking, an Afghan peace march that had set off in May was enduring 700km of Afghan roadsides, poorly shod, from Helmand province to Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul. Our march watched the progress of theirs with interest and awe.  The unusual Afghan group had started off as 6 individuals, emerging out of a sit-in protest and hunger strike in the Helmand provincial capital Lashkar Gah, after a suicide attack there created dozens of casualties. As they started walking their numbers soon swelled to 50 plus as the group braved roadside bombs, fighting between warring parties and exhaustion from desert walking during the strict fast month of Ramadan. 

The Afghan march, which is believed to be the first of its kind, is asking for a long-term ceasefire between warring parties and the withdrawal of foreign troops. One peace walker, named Abdullah Malik Hamdard, felt that he had nothing to lose by joining the march. He said: “Everybody thinks they will be killed soon, the situation for those alive is miserable. If you don’t die in the war, the poverty caused by the war may kill you, which is why I think the only option left for me is to join the peace convoy.”

The Japanese peace walkers marched to specifically halt the construction of a U.S. airfield and port with an ammunition depot in Henoko, Okinawa, which will be accomplished by landfilling Oura Bay, a habitat for the dugong and unique coral hundreds of years old, but many more lives are endangered. Kamoshita Shonin, a peace walk organizer who lives in Okinawa, says: “People in mainland Japan do not hear about the extensive bombings by the U.S. in the Middle East and Afghanistan, they are told that the bases are a deterrent against North Korea and China, but the bases are not about protecting us, they are about invading other countries. This is why I organised the walk.”  Sadly, the two unconnected marches shared one tragic cause as motivation.

Read more…
Walkers at the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park
Take ACTION!

Sign the petition to STOPdumping in the sea of Henoko, Okinawa for the construction of a new U.S. military airfield, port and ammunition depot.#WeLoveDugong #OceanIsLife

Oura bay is home to the dugong and coral which is hundreds of years old, U.S. Marines fly out of Okinawa to conflict zones around the world.Gimme shelter, mass removal of Afghan Asylum Seekers from Europeby Aisha Manier

Voice your protest at the complicit airline companies, tweet:
@TurkishAirlines

Swedish student Elin Errson stopped the deportation of an Afghan refugee last week on a Turkish Airlines flight
From Helmand to Hiroshima, perspectives of a peace walker

“Any politician considering the use of nuclear weapons should first visit the Hiroshima Memorial Museum, it is important for them to know what happens when they are used.”


“All the marchers have suffered in this war, I have lost my sister, father and uncle in the conflict. My only wish and demand is stop this war and fighting.”


“People in mainland Japan do not hear about the extensive bombings by the U.S. in the Middle East and Afghanistan, they are told that the bases are a deterrent against North Korea and China, but the bases are not about protecting us, they are about invading other countries. This is why I organised the walk.”


“The spirit for peace is strengthening among the people day-by-day. We hope that the world would realize that Afghans want peace, Afghans want their rights to be ensured and that we have to decide how to reach to peace”.


“When the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, 140,000 people were immediately evaporated,  one of the worst war crimes in history. Hiroshima should be the centre for learning humanity and compassion.”


“Everybody thinks they will be killed soon, I can be killed if I stay home or if I go to my shop, so I have decided it is much better to die for peace so the next generation of my family can enjoy peace.”


The Afghan Peace Volunteers meet the Helmand Peace Convoy        

CAN AFGHANS CONVINCE US THAT THE METHOD OF WAR ISN’T EFFECTIVE?

by Dr Hakim
2nd August 2018

Kahar was displaced from Helmand to Kabul where he attended the Borderfree Street Kids School run by the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Kahar had said, “I fled from war in Helmand, I want to live in Kabul or anywhere that is good.” 


One of the APVs, Ghulam Hussein, asked the Helmand Peace Walkers:
“Are you eventually going to form an organization?”


Iqbal replied, “No, we want this to be a people’s movement. We won’t accept monetary support from any government or political group, and we don’t want power. When we’ve achieved peace, we will go back to what we were doing, farming, livestock keeping, teaching….”

That hot summer morning, in the tent, there was clear and beautiful evidence that “We are many.”

Both members of the People’s Peace Movement and the Afghan Peace Volunteersare calling on the people of the world to join them in solidarity.

Awake, arise, smile, walk!
Read more


Postcard from Hiroshima 

(To be read out at the Hiroshima remembrance events)

Greetings from Hiroshima where I am currently accompanying a group of Japanese peace walkers. They started their 50 day pilgrimage from the island of Okinawa.

Hiroshima is the site of one of the worst war crimes ever committed. At 8.15am on the 6th August 1945 an Atomic bomb was released on the city and it became a living hell, 140,000 lives instantly evaporated. For that reason it is now a centre for peace and compassion, a beacon where people can learn about the importance of humanity. Hiroshima is a proud city which holds itself up to the rest of the world and says ‘never again’.


Currently I am ensconced on a hillside overlooking the city, the urban sprawl of modern apartments and sky scrapers built along a U.S. style grid system. Unlike other Japanese towns and cities I have walked through, here there are no old buildings. Today we walked around the city with our peace banner offering prayers of peace. Ground zero is now a thriving shopping mall, alive and buzzing with activity, it’s chilling to think it could potentially be reduced to rubble within seconds.


Along the walk I met the children of Hibakusha (people who survived the bomb), who talked of the trauma which carried through into their generation, the sicknesses and the nightmares of their parents. Others on the peace walk include a young brother and sister from the Native American Miccosukee (Panther) tribe, they talk of the trauma committed by the U.S. on their people. I am reminded of Los Alomos, Native American sacred land stolen by the U.S. Government and used to develop the atomic bomb.


Today Japan is still unwillingly central to war crimes, forced to accommodate U.S. military bases as part of their loosing legacy, there is an estimated 50,000 U.S. Marines currently in the country, often flying straight out of Japanese bases and into conflict zones.


73 year old walker Kenji Doi attended every step of the walk, his message is: “Any politician who thinks nuclear weapons are a good idea should visit Hiroshima”.

Russia in Afghanistan

Kabul under attack, peace groups in the UK respond, is Russia in Afghanistan?

100% Guaranteed 

photos in this email will make you feel uplifted….

Definitely view this email in your browser

FLY KITES NOT DRONES

Nao Roz Kite Flying 2018 

Voices for Creative Non -Violence UK

*Newsletter Special*
 



Hudderfield Fly Kites Not Drones 2018

  ….Latest News 

Over the last 2 weeks peace groups across the UK took part in flying kites for the Persian New Year, to publicise the rights of children living under drones.

In Kabul the Nao Roz was overshadowed by an attack which left 31 dead and 65 wounded. The Afghan Peace Volunteers responded by flying balloons as a beacon of hope.


Also in the last 2 weeks we have seen US military officials claim Russian interference in Afghanistan by way of arming the Taliban and exaggerating IS Khorasan presence in the region, and thus being a cause in the prolonging of the Afghan war… Currently there is no hard evidence to support these claims by US military officials, like General John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, who has alleged that Russian weapons were being smuggled across the Tajik border to the Taliban.

At this stage these claims maybe more based on paranoia by the US & UK military who have already recognised the mutual advantages gained by both Russia and the Taliban if they formed an unlikely alliance – it’s worth remembering that many original Taliban members were in the Mujahideen who fought against the Russians for 10 years. There is also, of course, the current ‘anti Russia’ hysteria which is probably impacting the direction which US & UK fingers of blame are being directed.

We hope you enjoy this fully illustrated newsletter with a summary of Fly Kites Not Drones events. Thanks everyone who took part, and to everyone else, there’s always next year!




Fly Kites Not Drones UK & US 2018

ACTIONS!
 

RAF WADDINGTON


LONDON

“Members of the London Catholic Worker and the CAAT London gathered at the top of Parliament Hill, in Hamstead Heath to fly home made kites against a smoggy London backdrop. There was not a breath of wind, but a couple of us managed to keep our kites airborne by running down hill. We had a bring and share picnic, and took photos. One passer intrigued by the Catholic worker banner told us he was a Jewish anarchist and asked if we had heard of Emma Goldman.”


BRADFORD

“A beautiful night in Bradford filling the sky with kites & laughing… lots of skilled boys from Afghanistan passed by & showed us how it was done.”


LEICESTER

“On 24th March Leicester CND joined the local Afghan community to celebrate  Nao Roz in Victoria Park and ‘Fly Kites Not Drones’. Over 60 people ate delicious Afghan food, and made kites and flew them.  Even though the weather was dull and occasionally drizzly the Afghan kites still flew brilliantly! And we got in the local paper with a photograph and article.”


HARROGATE

“In Harrogate on 25th, we (supporters of Menwith Hill AC) joined children from Harrogate Friends Meeting. Together, we Celebrated Nao Roz, the Persian New Year, with Afghanistan’s favourite activity of kite flying, while also being in solidarity with children living under drones.  We do know that drones in Afghanistan and Yemen are directed using intelligence from Menwith Hill near Harrogate.
One participant said:  ‘Great morning, glad we did it.’. I hope we’ll do it again.”


#FlyKitesNotDrones
@DroneCampaigns
@vcnvuk

“RAF Waddington lifted us off with this years’ Fly Kites Not Drones for Nao Roz mass actions… above Penny Walker braving the minus 9 degree C windchill, and a blizzard, in order to get a kite airborne. Two police officers in a car looked on as a well prepared team flew kites in Siberian winds. 
Most of the kite runners were well dressed for the occasion, while shelter for those less well dressed was provided by a warm car equipped with flasks of tea and legendary carrot cake”



EDINBURGH

“The weather cleared up just in time for a great day of kite making and kite flying in the Meadows Sunday in solidarity with people living under the threat of drone strikes. We were close to the park cafe where we hosted speakers and a live band. This was our fourth annual FKND Edinburgh Festival with lots of families attending.”


WISCONSIN, USA

“It was cold and windy, 41 degrees fahrenheit,  as we stood at the gates of Volk Field in Wisconsin.  Volk Field is an Air National Guard Base that teaches personnel to operate the Shadow Drone, a smaller drone that is used mainly for surveillance, reconnaissance, and target acquisition.  There has been concern recently that smaller weapons have been developed so that the Shadow Drone can now be weaponized.”


HUDDERSFIELD
“Great turnout yesterday – we had 10 people at short notice! Very positive response from the public too.”


HASTINGS
“Hastings battled with the elements, biting cold winds on the seafront with flash sleeting didn’t put off the 20 odd who turned out. Loads of traffic with the Hastings Half Marathon runners zipping past. Hastings organised a kite making workshop as well as gaining page 4 coverage in their local newspaper – .”


GALWAY

“In Ireland two primary schools participated in the peace initiative – Scoil Bhriocáin from Galway’s Irish speaking area in the West of Ireland and St. Colmcille’s from the opposite side of the island in Dublin .  The latter school focused on how to make and fly a kite while Scoil Bhriocáin’s pupils examined Afghan history and conditions there for children today. Both schools celebrated the Afghani New Year. And despite the rain Irish language TV covered the kite-flying by Scoil Bhriocáin’s pupils, who expressed their solidarity with Afghanistan’s children. A well supported public kite-flying event also happened in Galway city.”

Gaelic Fly Kites Not Drones leaflet as used in Galway


Nao Roz in Kabul

Pursuing Peace Despite of Everything
Dr Hakim in Kabul

On “Nao Roz” ( “New Day”), the Afghan New Year on the 21st of March 2018, a suicide bomb attack occurred near Kabul University, not very far from the Borderfree Nonviolence Community Centre of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Despite the complicated fears and emotions that arise with each security incident, Zekerullah, Bismillah, Nisar and others gathered at the Centre, built a peace sign and lifted it up into the air with multi-coloured balloons.During the Global Days of Listening program that evening, Zainab Amirzai said, “I was feeling down after hearing about the attack which killed 30 or more persons. I determined to come anyway, and when I saw the peace sign and balloons, I felt a sense of gratitude for our community here, that together we can resolve to work towards the kind of world we long for.”We each can lift peace up!

Read more from Kabul….


Afghan Peace Volunteers fly balloons as a beacon of hope, after a violent Nao Roz morning in Kabul, with an attack which killed 31 people and wounded 65.


Afghan Peace Volunteers response after the suicide bomb attack in Kabul in Nao Roz, how balloons became a beacon of hope.

Speaking Engagements

Voices for Creative Non Violence part of a Stop the War panel in London
Left: Lowkey, Brian Eno, Andrew Murray, Lindsey German, Murad Qureshi, 
Elif Sarican,
 Maya Evans and Michael Muir.

YORK Stop the War Event 24th April
Why We Need An Anti War Government
Panel includes; Chris Nineham, Maya Evans, plus others

NOTTINGHAM Pax Christi 2nd June
Annual Gathering
‘Drone Warfare Today’, FREE event, tickets here
Panel includes; Max Brookman-Bryne and Maya Evans
Church Hall, Launder Street, NG2 1JQ

Fly Kites Not Drones 2018 coming to a town near you…

Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK

Fly Kites Not Drones 2018

Saturday 17th – Sunday 25th March

Nao Roz, the Persian New Year is nearly upon us, have you dusted off your kite???

This is the 5th Fly Kites Not Drones annual action which coincides with the Persian New Year 21st March. As usual we have loads of actions happening up and down the country, below are a few we currently have details on, more will follow. 

This campaign was launched by the Afghan Peace Volunteers, and is now an international campaign which shows solidarity with children living under armed drones, this year we will be joined by many groups in the USA.

If there isn’t an event happening in your area then organise your own with a few friends, and send us photos @KitesNotDrones @VCNVUK 



 Kite flying in Kabul


Fly Kites Not Drones UK
Upcoming Events 
@KitesNotDrones
@VCNVUK
#FlyKitesNotDrones

info@dronecampaignnetwork.riseup.net


Edinburgh FKND Festival 
1-4pm Sunday 1st April
The Pavilion Cafe Edinburgh
Jawbone Walk, Melville Drive EH9 1JU 
Always a massive turn out with great winds, Edinburgh holds award winning photos.



Leicester Flying Afghan Style
11-1pm Saturday 24th March
Victoria Park, near Queens Road, LE1
Afghan Community comes together with local peace group for Afghan kite making & picnic, bring food to share, and prepare for some serious kite running.



Hastings FKND Marathon Special
11am Sunday 18th March
Hastings Beach, in front of the Carlisle Pub TN34 1PE
Organised by Hastings Against War, schedule to coincide with the Hastings Half Marathon, they will certainly be spreading the message high and far.



RAF Wddington Lincoln 
Out of Sight But NOT Out of Mind
1-3pm Saturday 17th March
Grantham Road, Lincoln, LN5 9BN
Flying kites with pride, showing our solidarity for children living under drones, organised by Drone Campaign Network.



London FKND Collective
2pm Saturday 24th March
Parliament Hill
Co-organised by London Catholic Worker, Campaign Against the Arms Trade & War Resisters International, spectacular London views, the action will also be made into a short film.



Aberdeen Gets High
10am -12 noon Sunday 25th March 
Ferry Hill Community Centre, Albury Road, Aberdeen, AB11 6TN
Kite making, decorating and flying hosted by Aberdeen CND.

Fly Kites Not Drones 2018

Over the last 5 years UK anti-drone campaigning activities  have included: entering drone control base RAF Waddington to plant a peace garden and carry out a citizens’ inspection, blockading Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems and regularly hosting the London kite flying event to resist armed drones. This year, as Afghans celebrate their new year, on Nao Roz, Voices for Creative Nonviolence-UK invites communities to join the Fly Kites Not Drones campaign.

This peace campaign was launched 5 years ago by young nonviolent peace campaigners in Kabul who have firsthand experience of losing family members killed by drones. The campaign was created to highlight the fear and harm which armed drones inflict on children, so much so that they’re now too afraid to take part in Afghanistan’s much-loved pursuit of kite flying. The Afghan Peace Volunteers asked international campaigners to fly kites on the Persian New Year, 21st March, in solidarity with Afghan children.

Fly Kites Not Drones has since gone international with kite flying becoming recognised as an act of international solidarity for all young people living under armed drones, spotlighting civilian casualties and the psychological trauma inflicted by drones.

An urgent call is being put out to  to join with this action in the light of recent news that there will be a reallocation of U.S. military resources back to Afghanistan.  Army General John Nicholson, Top Commander in Afghanistan recently commented: “As assets free up from Iraq and Syria and the successful fight against [Islamic State] in that theatre, we expect to see more assets come to Afghanistan”. According to Brussels, allied officials say they have sensed a shift in U.S. priorities with pressure on NATO to focus less on the Middle East but more on Afghanistan. The Pentagon recently made moves to reallocate drones, other hardware and 1,000 new combat advisers to Afghanistan in time for ‘fighting season’ which traditionally starts in Spring.

In Afghanistan civilian casualties are at an all-time high. The last UNAMA report published July 2017 calculated 1,662 civilians killed in the first 6 months of the year with 3,581 injured, and of those killed 174 were women and 436 were children, a 23% and 19% increase respectively from the previous year. Trump’s August pledge to stop nation building and fight terrorists almost certainly translates to a ramping up in the use of aerial bombing and moreover drone warfare, which, by default means an increase in civilian deaths.

The act of flying a kite is simple but deeply symbolic. For Afghans it’s an integral part of their culture and social life; banned under the Taliban it now carries an additional symbolism of resistance. The underlying message of the campaign is that beautiful blue skies should be kept as a place of fun, wonderment and joy, not a means of reaping terror and fear with a deathly omnipresence which can last for weeks and even months.

Fly Kites not Drones is an ongoing campaign which the APVhead up every year. So, this Nao Roz, (beginning of the Afghan New Year), on the 21st March (or around that time) join your brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, invite some friends and go fly a kite in your local park, open space, beach or military base! Make a sign, a simple leaflet, take some photos and let us know @kitesnotdrones #FlyKitesNotDrones info@dronecampaignnetwork.riseup.net

Suffrage for Afghan Women : Special Kabul Report

An Afghan woman wearing burqa casts her ballot at a polling station in Kabul Saturday, Oct. 9. 2004. Across Afghanistan voters went to the polls in the country’s first-ever direct presidential elections. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
What Do Afghan Women Think About Voting?
Looking at 100 years of women’s rights in Afghanistan

Voices for Creative Non Violence Newsletter from Kabul
February 2018
(to see interesting photos)
View this email in your browser
During the UK centenary for women’s suffrage, we find out what young women in Afghanistan think about voting

“There are many problems for women who want to vote, firstly, many do not have permission, sometimes men in the family do not allow. Secondly, women themselves don’t know their rights, they think it’s just the right which belongs to men. Also they don’t think it is important and many don’t know who to vote for.”“I think for women in Parliament maybe there is a lot of problems. Women are very scared in Afghanistan because all the power is taken, it’s very hard to struggle with men to get power. Parliament is where all the powerful men get together to make decisions, this is a very difficult area for women. Also, people probably won’t vote for women because they believe they can’t be in Parliament.”


Mah Begum age 17
“I intend to vote because it is my natural right, everyone should vote.”
“The people don’t believe that women can do anything, that they are weak so they will not choose [vote] for a woman.” “We believe politics is not good and women always want to do good things. In Afghanistan the politics is not good, women want to do kind and good things, to bring peace.”


Mariam age 25
“I didn’t vote in the last election because it doesn’t make a difference, plus I didn’t want either Afghani or Abdullah to win”
“When the women vote they face many problems, firstly they don’t choose for themselves, someone like their husbands tells them who to vote for. Also the woman is not free to go places, the husbands have to let them go, and also the Taliban don’t want women to vote.”“There are a few women in politics but not at the top, the problem is they can not be with the people in society because security is not good. Now the men have the power in the government and women can’t decide what they want to do, they have to listen to the men, and the men decide what the women should do because they think they know best. Also, if women want to talk about certain things, they are afraid they will lose their jobs.”


Alana age 18
“I will vote in the future because I want to choose someone to become President.”


Farzana age 17 
“I will vote because it is my right.”
“In Kabul it’s better because there are more literate women and they can decide who they want to vote for, but in the provinces it is different situation as women can’t read names so there are pictures or symbols to represent people. I’ve also heard that representatives at the voting stations tell women who to vote for by telling them the wrong names. Then in the house the men tell women who to vote for.”“The problem for women in politics is that it is still very male dominated, so even if a woman gets voted in the men still make the decisions, the opinions of women are overlooked.”“It’s very dangerous for women who speak out, a woman who is a politician must wear a Burqa when travelling so people don’t recognise her. Security is bad for all politicians, but for women it is worse.”


Marwa age 18
“I will not vote because in the past the results have not been good, also I’m not sure who is the good one, will they be a good person.”
“In Kabul it is easy for women to vote but in the provinces it is hard because families don’t let them go, security is hard for women. Sometimes in Kabul families don’t let women vote.”“I don’t know about the problems for women in politics.”


Zarghuna age 25
“I don’t vote because I understand that it is America who will choose who they want to become President. I heard during the Ashraf Afghani campaign that he would let America bring more soldiers to continue the war in Afghanistan, and that made me decide not to vote. Also it seems a poor system when there is a 1% difference in who gets elected”


“In Kabul it is easy to vote, but in the Provinces they kill women or cut their thumbs off so they can’t vote.”“Families don’t like the women to go into the area of politics, it’s not good for women as in Afghanistan men have all the power.””[T]here cannot be true peace and recovery in Afghanistan without a restoration of the rights of women.”
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan




Overnight Change
 by Maya Evans in Kabul 

Afghan women were given the right to vote in 1919, just a year after some women in the UK. In fact, the reforms laid down by King Amanullah Khan and his wife Queen Soraya made Afghanistan one of the most progressive countries of the day in terms of improving equality for women. During the same week in which the UK celebrates the centenary of women’s suffrage, I am in Afghanistan, a country ranked “the most dangerous in the world for women”. Conversations with Afghan women make me reflect on the history which shapes their current landscape, and how the fate of women can literally change overnight depending on who the controlling leaders are.

 On a personal level I have recently become a lot more interested and active in party politics after being selected to stand as a Councillor in my home town of St. Leonards on Sea. Admittedly, in the past, I’ve been something of a reluctant voter, feeling it made no difference, and often voting across the board; in fact I’ve voted for exactly 3 different political parties since turning 18. 

 My decision to stand as a local Councillor was directly influenced by a very deliberate stated ambition to achieve 50% of the positions within local councils and parliament occupied by women. I was personally talked into standing by a fellow member who said: “If half the people running this country were women, that would truly be revolutionary.” My local Party purposely organised meetings to encourage women to step forward, and, recently, put on a speaking assertiveness training course for prospective women councillors. 

 My Afghan friends ask me, “What have you been doing lately?” When I try to explain to them, “I am standing to become part of my town’s Jirga” (a traditional Pashtoon Afghan council normally consisting of men) – the response is a look of astonishment and then a burst of laughter…

 Looking at the history of women in Afghanistan, it’s astounding to think that 1920’s Kabul and London were relatively level pegging in terms of women’s liberation. It’s important to point out that rural Afghanistan was and still is a very different scene to Kabul, with deeply traditional and conservative attitudes. However, as is the general trend of progress, movements and ideas normally start in big cities and then proliferate.  

 Within 10 years King Amir Amanullah Khan made great gains for women’s rights. In 1923, he created Afghanistan’s first constitution which abolished slavery and forced labour. He guaranteed secular education and equal rights for men and women. He also granted women the right to choose their own husbands. Unfortunately his roll of progressive reforms was cut short when in 1929 his wife Queen Soraya was depicted without a head scarf, the final straw for conservative tribal leaders who were already angered by his modernising reforms. The couple were forced to flee and live in exile. Mohammed Nadir Shah claimed the throne and quickly abolished many of Khan’s reforms, returning Afghanistan to Sharia law and a monarchy for the next 40 years. By 1933 King Nadir Shah was assassinated and his son Zahir assumed the throne; his reign was defined by a period of stable but gradual modernisation.

The fate of Afghan women under Russian occupation is a mixed bag. Women were very much encouraged to further their education and take jobs, often within the government, though in the same stroke those who resisted the Communist regime were rounded up, imprisoned, sometimes horrifically tortured and killed. The Communist PDPA did not represent the wishes or attitudes for the majority of the country, especially those in the rural provinces which were still deeply conservative.

Afghanistan become a major Cold War pawn between the U.S. and the Soviet Union with the CIA pouring millions of dollars into training and arming the Mujahuddin, who were, broadly speaking, rural guerrilla fighters. It is during this time foreign fighters such as Saudi born Osama bin Laden travelled to Afghanistan to help fight the Jihad (holy war) against the godless Russians. 

 After the Taliban government was toppled in 2001 the same fundamentalist and misogynistic Mujaheddin warlords, who only 5 years previously, had freely used widespread rape and murder of women, were reinstated within a government which was, and still is, backed by the US/ UK and the international community. It is therefore no surprise that within the last 17 years few political gains have been made for women generally. 

 The overall situation for Afghan women has improved in the last decade, particularly in the major urban areas like Kabul, but for those living in the rural provinces, there are still major problems. It is no revelation when you look at some of the rules passed post Taliban, for example the “code of conduct” endorsed by President Karzai in 2012, said that “women should not travel without a male guardian and should not mingle with strange men in places such as schools, markets and offices.”

 In 2014 the Afghan government passed a law which limits family members to testify as witnesses of domestic violence, while in the previous year the UN published a statistic showing a 20% increase in violence towards women. In 2015 Farkhunda Malikzada, a 27 year old Afghan woman, was publicly beaten and slain by a mob in Kabul under false accusations of Quran desecration.

 Today 20% of the MPs in the Afghan government are women. Recent famous female politicians have included Malalai Joya who bravely spoke out for the rights of women, however the intensity of stress and poor security means her time within Parliament was short, and today she lives in secrecy and under protection.

 While reflecting on the parallel histories of Afghanistan and the UK it’s both painful and heartening to see how the extent of women’s participation within politics can be turned around almost overnight, depending on the political leaders in control. Having become involved in local party politics, I can see the UK still has a very long way to go in terms of real political equality. However, like in Afghanistan, the changes need to happen from the grassroots; women need to be brave, to make good use of any chance to use their intelligence, to seek out opportunities and carve new paths wherever possible. Indeed this is what many of the young women of the Afghan Peace Volunteers are currently doing. They are finding their feet, they are gaining confidence, they are expanding their knowledge, and like the women who are currently putting themselves forward as councillors, they are striding towards revolution from the grassroots. 

 Historical citations


Facts of Life for Afghan Women
According to the World Bank, in 2014 Afghan women made up only 16.1% of the labour force in Afghanistan

21% of students at University are women

Literacy rate for women is 24.2% In the area of agriculture, where women make up 30% of the workforce, they often earn three times less than men  

Under the Taliban, women and girls were discriminated against in many ways, for the ‘crime’ of being born a girl.

The Taliban enforced their version of Islamic Sharia law. Women and girls were:

Banned from going to school or studying

Banned from working

Banned from leaving the house without a male chaperone

Banned from showing their skin in public

Banned from accessing healthcare delivered by men

 Banned from being involved in politics or speaking publicly.


VICTORY!

FOUR STOP THE ARMS FAIR protestors were found “not guilty” last week for blocking the road last September during a week of action to stop DSEi.

One of the protestors Henrietta Cullinan has visited the Afghan Peace Volunteers twice over the last few years and talked about her experiences in the witness box:


“I talked about how the arms fair has to sell more weapons to promote war, that I’ve been to Afghanistan twice and seen the long term effects of war on young people, that i’ve met women my age with injuries from Russian airstrikes, met refugees, how there’s no infrastructure to help refugees. For ordinary people war doesn’t just stop when it’s over…
The judge was very impressed that i’d been to Afghanistan,”

The defense lawyer, Raj Chada, said – “On the day after the actions of the suffragettes were lauded, it is apt that today’s generation of direct action protestors do not have to wait 100 years to be vindicated. These defendants seek to bring to our attention the evil of the arms trade – it is to that cause that we must focus.”